How To Buy Booth Space & Exhibit Like A Pro at a Festival or Art Fair

One of the best ways to get your brand name out there is to buy a booth at a local music festival, or art fair. Not only is this a great opportunity for grassroots marketing, but allows people to see, feel, and smell (well only if you are selling candles and incense) your product and connect with you on a personal level.

If you have never attended one of these or if you buy a booth often, I have put together some tips to help you get the most out of your booth investment as well as different supplies needed to create a professional look.

Step 1:

Find local music and art festivals that you can buy a booth to promote your brand.
http://www.festivals.com is a good place to start to see the different events that come to your area. Make sure the festival fits your demographic. It would be a waste of money if your zombie inspired brand bought a booth at a blue grass festival. Do your research and make sure you choose a festival that will be an asset in building your brand.

Step 2:

Once you find a festival to purchase a booth space, get as much information as you can from the vendor coordinator. There is nothing worse then spending money to get a booth and come to find out the festival doesn’t provide covering, table, chairs, etc. Ask the right questions.. Do they provide electricity, tables, pipe & drape, How big is the total booth space (width, length & height). This will help you figure out what supplies you need to bring and which are not necessary.

Step 3:

Determine how much product you need to sell to pay for the booth fee. Even though buying a booth space is a great source of marketing, when it comes down to it, you don’t want to break the bank. Sell your product at a discounted rate because you want to get your product out to as many people as possible. Hand out coupon codes for online purchases or free shipping. There will be a ton of other booths trying to get the attendees money, so determine a price that is affordable and will not make them choose between your shirt or a turkey leg and beer. You wnat them to be able to afford both!

Step 4:

Design your booth to stand out from the crowd. It should be novelty but something that is not too difficult to set up. For more pro tips on booth design, check out the IATT.TV episode : http://iamthetrend.com/2009/10/24/iatt-pro-tips-for-exhibiting-at-a-craft-fair/

Below are some random tips on best practices for set up and supplies :
(I come from the music industry, so a lot of these tips are helpful for bands, but translate the same for clothing brands)

Backdrop:

Close off the back and side of your booth to create your own retail space. No one wants to look at the back of another tent or be distracted by your neighbor. Maximize your real estate and use every inch as marketing space.

I suggest using a king size sheet that will span the length of your tent or if you have the funds, create a vinyl banner with your company logo & website. Add your branding to everything. Johnny Cupcakes is the king of this.

If the fair is outside, then even one of those mesh banners might be good just in case the wind is strong. You don’t want your tent to turn into a sail. (For bands, maybe you can get your management or record company to front the bill.)

Put your product up in the air :
Invest in some Male & Female body forms. It is not professional to just lay out all your designs on the table. If you start getting a crowd and people come by to look at them, they will most likely leave and your opportunity for a sale is gone.

Use Magic hangers :
You can hang multiple shirts and adjust the height to accommodate for hoodies or female tees with a longer length. This gives your display a uniformed look. You can find them HERE

Protect your investment! Buy Plastic Supply bins :
Festivals or fairs are usually dirty and many that I have been to seem to have nasty storms. One band I worked for got hit with a micro burst and damaged over 3k in merchandise. Keep the shirts closed in the bins and just have displays that can get dirty

Big & Bright Price Tags:
Make it easy for the attendees to see how much it costs. Don’t make them ask. Create a festival special and throw in some free buttons and stickers. Adam promotes doing this as a standard for any clothing company. Go above and beyond the customers expectations.

Apparel Organization:
Roll each shirt into a round baton shape & have a rubber band on it. Get custom printed rubber bands to go around them for extra branding or have some unique packaging. Sort them out by size. It helps with keeping track of inventory.

Here are some other supplies that you want to have with you:

Butterfly clips:
These help keep the shirt more fitting to the form or attaaching price tags. Hanging all your shirts on a string might look nice if you are doing laundry, but people are 3 dimensional and your display should reflect that. The first thing to smart retailing is “staging”.
Mirror (for them to check themselves out)
Sharpies (keep extras for autographs)
Ink pens
Scissors & box cutter
Extension chord & power strip
Lights and extra bulbs

If you are selling head wear, you can buy a table head mannequin to display them
(these 3 supplies below will help you be magyver and jimmy rig your booth in any situation)
Tape Gun with extra tape
Gaff tape
Zip ties

Last but not least…

SET YOURSELF UP TO TAKE CREDIT CARDS!!!

I can’t emphasize this enough. Only having a cash option for the attendees will prevent you from getting extra sales. Instead of the customer having to spend an extra $3 to take money out of the ATM at the festival, let them pay with plastic. Not only is this quick & convenient, but will possible increase the total amount of the sell.

Here is the best way to start out

Squareup.com

* They provide you with a free swipper.
* Transaction rates: (similar to paypal)

2.75% + $.15 per transaction with swiper
3.75% + $.15 per transaction when entering manually

* Deposits into your account within 24 hours
* You can email or text the receipt to purchaser (also great way to collect emails for marketing)
* Free app
* Goes straight into your bank account

I hope you have found this article helpful and can learn from my 20 years of festival experience. Everything might not be applicable to you, but use the information to get your wheel turning about your booth. There are so many other tips I could provide you, but this will get you going no matter what size your brand is or how many trade shows you have been to. Post any questions you have and Adam or I would be happy to help you out. You can also always get a hold of me by visiting www.amb3r.com


  • http://twitter.com/teezine Tee zine

    Very useful tips! Was run reading the article.

  • Austin clark

    I dont ever comment on these. BUT HOLY SHIT!  Thank you soooo soooo much for posting that website for the festivals!  Ive been looking forever for a site like that!!!!     You seriously dont know how happy i am now :) 

  • http://angryspade.storenvy.com Angry Spade

    Tons of useful tips, thanks a lot for this! Bookmarking it.

  • http://pspiso.com Maiyumi

    very nice!

  • http://www.uprinting.com/vinyl-banner.html George N

    There are many tips you said here, and it will be very helpful for me. Nowadays, business really need some strategies and techniques to promote their business and also to gain more customers. You got my wheel turning!

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    Excellent!
    Great article, I already saved it to my favourite,